Second time lucky

The mill stream at Woods Mill seems to be the place to be for Turtle Dove this year, at least for everyone else.  We spent about 4 hours there on 9th, and all we heard was someone telling us that there had been one purring on the reserve earlier.  Another two hours on Sunday yielded nothing, but we went on to the reserve, where it had been the previous time, and had nice views of a purring bird.  49 miles for a bird is a bit of an effort, though.

On the way back we had a very showy Banded Demoiselle by the river, and on the down behind us a very cooperative Beautiful Demoiselle, much more friendly than the ones at Woods Mill.

Another pond resident
Finally, a purring Turtle Dove
Banded Demoiselle
Beautiful Demoiselle

Spring greens

Yorkshire in May is one of my favourite places.  There’s nothing quite like a walk in Strid Woods on a fine morning, with the fresh green of new oak leaves, and the wood filled with the song of Pied Flycatchers, Willow Warblers and Redstarts.  Sadly the Wood Warblers, probably my favourite warbler, are no longer singing there.  Up in Nidderdale, things are a bit bleaker up at Scar House reservoir, but the birding is still excellent, the highlights being my first Crossbill in the Dales, a drumming Snipe, and, on the way home, my first Yorkshire Osprey over Gouthwaite reservoir.

230513 Dales-001
230513 Dales-002
Lapwing chick
230513 Dales-003
230513 Dales-004
Osprey being mobbed by Lapwing
230513 Dales-005
Pied Flycatcher
230513 Dales-006
230513 Dales-007
230513 Dales-010
Willow Warbler, scarce in Sussex this year, but there's loads in Yorkshire
230513 Dales-008


Here’s a few more shots from our trip to Bempton.  A mile or so away there were a couple of hundred Grey Seals on the beach at Flamborough.

230513 Bempton-001
The compulsory Puffin shot
230513 Bempton-002
230513 Bempton-005
230513 Bempton-007
230513 Bempton-006
Guillemot with Sand Eel
230513 Bempton-011
Big feet!

The Black-eyed G’s

A quick visit to Yorkshire last weekend saw us visiting Bempton.  To my eyes it looked like the number of Gannets was significantly down from last year, but there will be a census to confirm or deny that.  There are still loads there, though.  The effects of bird flu were in evidence though: black staining of the iris of Gannets’ eyes has been shown to be associated with recovery from bird flu.  A small proportion  of birds showed black or blackened eyes.  Whether that’s because the colony had low incidence of bird flu, or the mortality is such that relatively few birds recover, I haven’t a clue.  Here’s a sample of eyes.

230513 Gannet Eyes-011
This eye looks OK
230513 Gannet Eyes-012
Both eyes affected
230513 Gannet Eyes-013
Completely black
230513 Gannet Eyes-014
Just a small amount of discolouration
230513 Gannet Eyes-015
One eye looks fine
230513 Gannet Eyes-016
Two black eyes


After a few days of seawatching that has grudgingly yielded most of what we were after (a post-work charge down to the sea for a Pom paid off at the second attempt), we went for a proper walk, to Pulborough Brooks.  It proved productive, with the hoped-for Wood Sandpiper and Ruff still there.  Hobbies were everywhere, a plastic White Stork was on the north brooks and there were plenty of Nightingales.  They seemed to be showy this year, one even sitting in a treetop yelling its head off.  A detour looking for owls on the way home (limited success) gave us a dusk encounter with a hare as we walked through a wood.  The daft thing lolloped along the track up to about 10 m from us, and even then it didn’t run, just stepped off the track and started browsing.

A very noisy Goldcrest in our front garden this morning gave some nice views.

230508 Nightingales-001
230508 Nightingales-002
230508 Nightingales-005
A Nightingale's tonsils, probably the loudest Nightingale I've ever heard.
230508 Nightingales-006
Nightingales hide in dense cover to sing. One didn't get that memo...
230508 Nightingales-007
It must have seen us...
230508 Nightingales-018
... but still it lollops on
230508 Nightingales-009

Dirty twitchers

A couple of days’ seawatching over the weekend was slow going, but it’s always a treat to see Little Terns, and a Bonxie was a bit of a relief after the hammering they have taken from avian influenza.  A lack of energy for long-distance walking meant that we hopped in the car for a change and did some twitching: to Seaford for the White-crowned Sparrow and to Pulborough for a Wood Warbler.  This is getting harder to find in its alleged breeding grounds in Yorkshire, so it was good to get a passage bird, although it had stopped singing by the time we arrived.    It would have been a good day to walk, as there was a Pied Flycatcher and five Wood Sandpipers there too.

At home, there’s a couple of Grass Snakes around the pond, including this whopper.

White-crowned Sparrow
Wood Warbler
Grass Snake